Future-forming interdisciplinary research

Social innovation as a mechanism for integrating marginalised communities

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Tying in with ISF’s agenda around improving futures and experiences, this study looks to enhance the future for refugees resettling in Lancaster through generating critical insight about how refugees can integrate into their new communities through social innovation. It considers the situation of Aberdeen and draws on its experiences to then partner with Lancaster City Council, helping prepare its vision for resettling refugees in April 2017.

On 17 November 2015, the first flight carrying Syrian families from refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan arrived in Scotland. In a reflection of Scotland’s readiness in comparison to other parts of the UK, Scotland welcomed one in three of the thousand arriving refugees – termed New Scots. Sophie, of British and Syrian decent, has been volunteering with Aberdeen Councils in resetting their refugees under the ‘New Scots’ strategy . Lancaster City Council will welcome 500 Syrian refugees in April 2017 and has stated “We would like to do more but by joining the scheme in year two we will be able to build on and learn from the experiences of other local authorities that resettle refugees this year”. This study is designed to support that process.

Social integration of refugees into British society is high on policy agendas. Sophie has learned Syrians are eager to work and give back to their new communities in innovative ways. Simultaneously, local businesses are asking councils how they might contribute to the sustainability of the ‘New Scot’ strategy.

This exploratory study looks at the contexts of Aberdeen (urban) and Aberdeenshire (rural) where New Scots are settling and utilizes social innovation as a mechanism for integrating refugees into local communities. It follows a relational framework, providing platform for building relationships and bringing together refugees, councils and local businesses in one space to discuss innovative strategies for integration.

Sophie Alkhaled and Sarah Jack
Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Strategy. Lancaster University Management School.

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